EATON — Margaret Wilma Dues celebrated her 101st birthday at Greenbriar Nursing Center on Friday, Feb. 14, surrounded by her children.
According to her son, former Preble County Judge Wilfrid Dues, Wilma Dues was born in Coshocton County in a house that is still standing today. She lived with her parents, half way between Coshocton and West Lafayette. She attended school in West Lafayette, which was the closest town. She was taught in a one-room school house with a class of three.
She graduated in 1936 at the age of 17.
“She was so young because there weren’t any other kids in the neighborhood, in the country. They started her in first grade when she was five years old,” Wilfrid Dues said.
She then attended business school in Columbus. After she graduated, she got a job at Wright Field, before getting transferred to Patterson Field.
“Back then there were two separate air fields out there, Wright Filed and Patterson Field. Later on it got called Wright Patterson,” Wilfrid Dues said. “She worked there and that is where she met my dad.”
Both Wilma and and her husband Wilfred Dues were transferred out of state for work, where they got married in 1942. She got pregnant with their first child and Wilfred Dues Sr. was drafted.
“My sister was born, and he didn’t know she was born. He got captured in the Battle of the Bulge and was in a POW Camp in Czechoslovakia for five months. I always tell the story, he got out of basic at 165 pounds and weighed 95 pounds when he got back, having been starved in a war camp,” Wilfrid Dues said.
When asked how she got through the tough time, Wilma Dues said, “I had guts! I pulled through.”
Once he returned, the family lived in Coshocton, before moving to Celina. Wilma Dues worked for a law firm, before the family got transferred to Michigan and then transferred back to Celina. She worked for Huffy’s Corporation in the purchasing department.
Wilma Dues retired when she was 84 years old.
Wilfred Dues Sr. passed away in 1992. Following his death, Wilma Dues lived independently in Celina for 10 years. When she fell and broke her hip, her family moved her to Greenbriar in Eaton for rehab and lived in the condos independently. Approximately two years ago she fell and broke her leg and was moved to assisted living. She is now a resident at Greenbriar Nursing Center.
“She’s always had a good attitude and has always been pleasant, even when she is in pain or something is broken. She loves to talk to people, loves people, and I think that stands out,” Wilfrid Dues said.
Wilma Dues enjoys cooking, knitting, gardening, golf, reading, and many other hobbies. She has two children, four grandchildren, and eight grandchildren.
“I’ve had a good life. I made the best of it, the good things go along with some things that aren’t the best,” she said. “I’m another year older — 101 years old, but I’m still going strong, boy! We enjoy life and the people around us. I had two children who are just precious and I’m happy with life.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH